I can't honestly think back to a time where I recognize, "Hey, it doesn't matter to me." I can remember times when it still freaked me out when I still used to get nervous about our shows. I remember every time we played the Wetlands we used to sit back stage and the place would be empty--10:00, 10:30, 11:00 people would start showing up, 11:30 the room would start to fill up, finally by like midnight there were people there and it was like, "Oh, thank god!" You know what I mean? But like that whole time you're just sweating it because it's 10:00 and there's nobody there, and it's like, "Oh my God, we didn't sell any tickets tonight," and, "This is the beginning of the end," or, "Are we going to end up like Shockra?" and nobody's ever going to have heard of us at this point. For what it's worth, Shockra was this awesome band from New England we opened up for at one point.
Yeah, Dave Watts (currently of the Motet), right?
Yeah! We held this band in really, really high regard, and then ultimately the band went away. And it was just one of those things that was sort of unfathomable to us because they were much better than us and that couldn't be. And so I always sort of used that as a benchmark; if Shockra could go away then we could absolutely go away at any minute. So, if people didn't come to the Wetlands tonight, then we would be Shockra, and we would go away. And I didn't want that to happen to us and so I used to think of that. Ultimately, people would come and we would do fine, but I can't think of a time where I'd walk out onstage and be like, "Oh, I'm so free up here. This is great! I'm going to take my pants off and it's going to be OK." [laughter]
Yeah, I don't know, it's been gradual process for us like everything else has been in our career. Everything has been gradual for us, there was never a switch flipped for us. Everything has been an organic evolution for us from day one until now. There was never a hit. There was never a huge surge of cash that came into this thing. There was never a big surge of popularity. Everything has happened naturally with us. And maybe that's why it's stable and good.
Well, four years ago was the first time I talked to you and you described moe. as a safe investment. "We grow a couple percent every year, maybe five to 10 percent…"
I wish it could be more like Google or Apple. Like a safe investment, but ridiculous in how much we were worth.
[laughter] Right. But I think it's nice… well, maybe it's not nice. You've got a family, you've got a mortgage and all that.
But I find something that's really great about the music knowing that, yeah, you've got to go out and play; that's your job. I know that's a weird way to look at it, but it's really honest.
Oh, it is. We're not at a point in our careers or financially where we can stop playing and let the checks flow in from that song that gets played on the radio all the time or those CDs that are flying off the shelf at "name your record chain that didn't close." So, yeah, we have to play. This is our job. We're very much like teachers or anybody else who has a job that pretty much requires you to work at it to get a paycheck. And this is what we do. We've got a fairly good size organization to support. Between all of our road crew and everybody who works in our home office, it's a pretty good size organization. We've got everybody to work for us; there are families, all of the health insurance to cover, you know, all of our basic operating expenses. It's a lot to sort of manage, and so, yeah, we have to go to work. And it's OK, we all came from middle class families. We're not sons of rock stars or like really wealthy families, so this is the life we grew up with. This makes sense to us. It makes sense that we would have to go to work for a living. The ironic thing is we're putting suits and ties on to go to work this year [laughter]. But the thing is our job is great. We are travelling all over the country and playing in a rock band for our job. It is much better than pushing paper in many cases. There are a lot of other great jobs out there, don't get me wrong. I can easily list five other jobs I would love to do other than being in a rock band, but, I love being in a rock band.
I know it's hard to describe, it's sort of a mysterious thing, but I feel like I can hear that in the music. That you guys have worked really hard for what you have and you have to work for it. You can hear it in the music that there wasn't ever a moment when a rich family member said, "Yeah, we believe in the band. Here's a bunch of money." I know that can't be clearly articulated coming through the sound, but I feel like I hear that in your music. There is that depth. You just feel it. You can hear the honesty.
It's always been that way for us. It's been that important to us since the beginning. It's everything to us. We've really put everything into it, and it means a lot to us.
You guys have done a lot of stuff: moe.down, Summer Camp, snoe.down, things to get everybody together. What are the other things you're longing to do?
Other things we're longing to do…
Yeah, are there things like that?
I would still like to do… sort of my dream gig… I really want to do some kind of intimate gig in a remote location that is not unlike when the Grateful Dead played at the Pyramids in Egypt. But I want to do something like that in a natural setting that would not have any impact on the environment. For me, personally, I would like to do it in the High Peaks in the Adirondacks. Now, whether or not that could actually happen and how that could actually happen, I don't really know. I mean, literally there's no way we could do that with more than 50 to 100 fans tops, and it would almost have to be an acoustic show, like, completely unplugged to make it happen. That's just one example, or maybe at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or something like that. I want to go some place like that where we all go together on a three or four day trek some place, and we all go together, and we bring all the gear together and everybody goes on a three or four day hike, like a big camping trip and there's a show. And we do video and record the whole thing for posterity, but we're all there together and we go there as a group and make this event happen. We kind of do this as a big bonding experience and, I don't know, it's just something I just sort of envisioned that I would really, really like to do, but in one of these pristine locations somewhere in our country. The Adirondacks would be my first choice, but I just find it difficult to try and pull off [laughter]. I mean other than doing it right at the Adirondack Loj, which isn't going anywhere and we can just drive and park there and just sort of do it at the Loj. We could maybe hike back to Marcy Dam and do it there or at Johns Brook Lodge.
There are places where you could maybe do it, and maybe even have power, but it's just sort of getting the people together and having the space without being in the way of all the other people who are sort of camping and doing their thing that weekend and all the other hikers, and without really treading on the environment too much. That's something I really, really want to try and pull off at some point in our career. Who knows, maybe someday.
I know you've made a solo electronic album [al.one], and you have Al and the Transamericans, stuff that fulfills your needs as a musician, but outside of moe. But what kind of music do you want to make with moe. that you haven't yet? Again, is there something you're longing to do? Or some kind of reinvention of sound? I feel like you guys do that naturally every couple of years where it morphs into a new sound environment.